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January 2, 2007
Thats Why They Play The Games

Michigan and its fans spent a lot of time over the last few weeks arguing that they should have gone to the BCS championship game against Ohio State. Instead, they faced off against the two-loss Trojans of USC in the Rose Bowl, ranked five places below the Wolverines. Instead of making the case that the BCS stiffed them, Michigan played like stiffs in losing the Rose Bowl to USC:

There were no Heismans or national titles up for grabs for Southern California in this one. Given the way Dwayne Jarrett, John David Booty and that suffocating USC defense played, it was hard to tell.

Jarrett, the sensational USC receiver, caught 11 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns to help the eighth-ranked Trojans finish their season with a statement Monday in a 32-18 Rose Bowl romp over Michigan.

Booty threw for 391 yards and four scores to land himself on the early short list of next season's Heisman favorites. Jarrett could be there, too, if he decides to come back. Linebacker Brian Cushing had 2 1/2 sacks and defensive end Lawrence Jackson came up with two turnovers - a fumble recovery and an interception - on a day when USC allowed only 321 yards.

Michigan would never have had an argument at all had USC played this well against UCLA in its season finale. The Trojans looked inept against their crosstown rivals in losing their second game of the season, and it ruined the dream matchup of the 2005 runner-up and the season-long #1 in 2006. Michigan argued that their one-loss season should have given them priority over Florida, considering that they played a tougher schedule and had only lost to the Buckeyes, and that by only three points in a shootout.

That wasn't the only team exposed in the bowl games, either. Penn State did a nice job of embarrassing Tennessee, which must have considered the unranked Nittany Lions an easy mark for a year-end celebration. Instead, the 17th-ranked Volunteers ran out of gas against PSU, allowing Joe Paterno's team to score 10 points in the final quarter, the final margin of victory.

Or, for those who stayed up late to watch it, take one of the greatest football bowl games in recent memory. Boise State, from the lowly WAC, went undefeated as did Ohio State, but because of the discounting done by sports writers and football coaches could not play for the national championship. They got matched up against Oklahoma and most expected them to lose. Instead, the gutsy team from Idaho outplayed and outcoached the Sooners and beat them in a thrilling overtime win:

Boise State proved it belonged in the BCS and started another lively college football debate. The ninth-ranked Broncos completed a perfect season with an exhilarating 43-42 overtime victory over No. 7 Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl Monday night, leaving Boise State and top-ranked Ohio State as the only teams with perfect records.

The Buckeyes will play No. 2 Florida for the BCS national championship on the same field Jan. 8, but the Broncos (13-0) believe they belong in that game.

And why not? Boise State showed plenty of heart and resilience in edging the Sooners (11-3) in one of the more amazing games in recent memory.

Did they ever. They ran up an 18-point lead before Oklahoma began a tough comeback in the second half, and twice rallied back from seven-point deficits afterwards. When their quarterback threw an interception that went back for a touchdown with a minute left, the game looked over to everyone but BSU, who scored a touchdown with seven seconds left. On OT, rather than kick an extra point to tie after Oklahoma scored on its possession, they ran a two-point conversion and succeeded on a counter play. It showed that the undefeated team that won no respect from the experts had the heart and the talent to play with the top tier of college football.

So what does all of this mean? It means, as many of us have argued for the last few years, that the BCS has done nothing to establish a national champion. Until we get a real playoff, just as the lower NCAA divisions use for football, we never will have a real national champion. However, we do have a system that allows us to continue arguing about it -- so perhaps it has its advantages.

Addendum: Do CQ readers think Notre Dame beats LSU in Wednesday's Sugar Bowl?

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 2, 2007 5:13 AM

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